Boston Mayor Michelle Wu wants to revamp city’s approach to affordable housing

Boston mayor Michelle Wu (Getty)
Boston mayor Michelle Wu (Getty)

A landlord-backed “Get Government Out” campaign that scrapped rent control in Massachusetts almost three decades ago may have met its match.

Boston’s newly elected mayor, Michelle Wu, is considering a revamp of the city’s approach to affordable housing, a move that could include reinstating the rules, according to Wu pledged to form a “rent stabilization advisory group” to make recommendations for a home rule petition with the state legislature, which would have to sign off on such a measure.

One sticking point: the legislature appears lukewarm to an idea that Wu raised during her run for mayor, the outlet reported. Rent control was outlawed across Massachusetts in a 1994 referendum after landlords said that wealthy tenants were taking advantage of the rules.

To expand affordable housing, Wu may seek to boost the number of affordable units required in new developments to at least 20 percent from 13 percent. Wu may also cut the number of units required to trigger the inclusion of affordable housing, saying. “there are so many nine-unit proposals because people know that or developers realize that there’s a strict cutoff there.”

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Likewise, the threshold for triggering linkage fees could also be cut. Under current law, developers of 100,000-square-foot-plus commercial projects must pay a $15.39-per-square-foot fee to fund affordable housing and workforce development under current law.

The head of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Sheila Dillon, said the city will study whether to lower the square footage threshold and possibly increase fees for lab developments.

Wu could also increase fees on sales above $2 million to fund affordable housing.

[] — Dennis Lynch 

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